Petty Political Games Can Wait, Maharashtra. We’ve Got a Pandemic to Deal With First


Petty Political Games Can Wait, Maharashtra. We’ve Got a Pandemic to Deal With First

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

The coronavirus situation has been grim in Maharashtra with the state recording over 41,000 cases and 1,454 deaths so far. Mumbai alone has recorded over 25,500 cases with the death toll reaching 882. The healthcare system seems to be under stress and availability of beds is a massive concern. Hundreds of migrant workers have gathered at railways stations on multiple occasions and social distancing measures have been found wanting across various markets and public places.

At a time when all efforts should be directed towards the healthcare and administrative front, an ugly war of words, hashtag campaigns, and petty politics is playing out in the state between the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi dispensation and the Bharatiya Janata Party in opposition.

Former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis and other BJP leaders staged a “Maharashtra Bachao” demonstration outside the party office, demanding the announcement of a ₹50,000-crore package for farmers, labourers & workers of the unorganised sector by the state government. “Most sick, most dead! Health system completely collapsed, government inactivity! Constantly cooperated with the state government. But how much will the people tolerate?” he tweeted.

Without violating social distancing, the party asked its workers to hold black placards and wear masks of the same colour while registering their protest. The BJP even asked Maharashtra residents to dress in black, enter their balconies, and display placards with slogans against the ruling Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government led by Uddhav Thackeray.

#MaharashtraBachao started trending on Twitter and the hashtag has garnered over 48K tweets as the BJP’s IT cell sprung into action, running a coordinated campaign with images, videos and infographics, all directed towards the Uddhav-led government. At a time, when the opposition party could have worked with the government to make things better, it has chosen to indulge in theatrics.

In response, everyone was subject to more ill-timed drama as the alliance partners of the coalition government started using #महाराष्ट्रद्रोहीBJP to take potshots at Devendra Fadnavis and the Maharashtra BJP. #महाराष्ट्रद्रोहीBJP has been used over 98K times and is trending along with #MaharashtraBachao as both parties have a go at each other in this rather ugly display in the middle of a pandemic.

“Think once before holding black (placards) in hand, aren’t you insulting doctors, policemen and health workers who are working for Maharashtra! Are you committing treason with Maharashtra?” asked NCP leader Jayant Patil.

“The people will never accept this dirty politics of BJP. On the contrary, they will protest against this wrong politics and teach the BJP a lesson!” said Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad.

Aaditya Thackeray also came out all guns blazing in his criticism of the campaign organised by BJP Maharashtra, describing it as “absolutely shameful” and a “new low”.

In pictures shared on Twitter, children are seen participating in the protest with masks lowered, which was pointed out by Aaditya .“Making kids stand in the heat, with their masks lowered, not covering the face for a political protest when we need to keep them safe and indoors. Corona ko bhul gaye, politics pyaara hai,” he posted.

With the case count rising, deaths mounting and the most vulnerable in the state struggling to get bare essentials, this ugly politics seems misplaced, petty, and unnecessary at the moment. The politics can wait, BJP and Maha Vikas Aghadi, we’ve got a pandemic to deal with first.